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Friday, 26 November, 1999, 13:28 GMT
Cyclone toll 'may never be known'
Cyclone devastation Orissa is seeking funds to help clear up after the cyclone

By Mike Wooldridge in Delhi

One month on, it is evident from the faces and the frequent tears of many of the survivors that they are still living constantly with the trauma of their homes and other places being battered for hours by both the cyclone and the tidal surge it triggered.

Orissa: After the storm
In many cases their loss is overwhelming.

In human life, people tell of watching their children, elderly relatives, wives, husbands unable to cling on any longer and being swept away before their eyes - now they are without any means of livelihood.

Bodies continue to surface in paddy fields and along river banks, as volunteers and seconded municipal workers carry on the grim task of disposing of those retrieved earlier.

Counting the dead

A village-by-village count of the dead and missing has just begun.

Many of the aid agencies working in the area believe the eventual death toll could be 20,000 or more.

But they also say it may never be known accurately, not least because of the number of migrant workers who live in such coastal areas.

A team from the World Bank and other international and financial agencies will be visiting Orissa next week to look into the long-term rehabilitation of the survivors and of the infrastructure of the state's coastal regions.

The state government says it will be discussing with the World Bank a rehabilitation package for 15m people altogether.

Rehabilitation

Orissa's Development Commissioner says he wants to see the devastated villages rebuilt with concrete houses.

The state's calculation now is that more than half a million animals perished, including bullocks, which are the mainstay for ploughing.

It says more than one and a half million coconut trees were uprooted - a major source of income for many.

There are industries expecting to take a year to resume normal working.

Criticism continues over lack of co-ordination in the relief operation.

The head of the central government's Orissa Taskforce, the defence minister George Fernandez, said on Friday that everyone was doing their best, but the best may not be good enough.

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Emergency relief ends in Orissa
14 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Race to cremate cyclone corpses
12 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: Orissa's history of neglect
15 Nov 99 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Life and death in Orissa
12 Nov 99 |  South Asia
In pictures: Salvaging Orissa
08 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Cyclone relief stepped up
13 Nov 99 |  South Asia
Cholera epidemic feared in Orissa

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